Saturday the 10th was forecast to be warm and clearing. After seeing Susan off I left Indianola around 7:20 and headed for Osceola. It was partly cloudy with a little ground fog and the Jeep's thermometer showed 18 degrees. I'd called Amtrak earlier to see how the eastbound Zephyr was doing today and learned that it was expected at 9:09, close to an hour late.
With the help of the scanner, I started locating this morning's traffic on the BNSF mainlines. I heard eastbound 9713 get a warrant and leave Creston at 7:30 - I'd be able to intercept that one at Osceola. At 7:37 the Osceola detector reported 488 axles on Main 2 - hmmm, maybe I should have gone down Hwy. 65 to Lucas instead of 69 to Osceola. About 7:40 track inspector Hamilton rang up the Kansas City desk dispatcher (R.A.L.) and asked to use the westbound main to go from Chariton east to Halpin. It sounded like he'd just seen a westbound go by, but the dispatcher told him another, BNSF 704 West, was on the way and that he'd need to wait.
Just before 8:00 I heard BNSF 9974 West clear up at Creston and another eastbound, BNSF 8972, leaving town. I'd been in Osceola for just a few minutes when the detector announced a westbound. This turned out to be a distributed power COEX train with 130 cars, BNSF 4130 on the head end and BNSF 8887 on the rear. About 8:20 the first eastbound came around the corner west of the depot. This was a D.P. load, CEFX cars, with BN 9713 that I'd heard leaving Creston earlier. In these shots taken from the north side of the rails (there wasn't that much sunshine yet), you can see a dead unit that was in the north stub track, BNSF 8922. Bringing up the rear of the CEFX load was BN 9818. The detector east of town reported this one at 512 axles.
I'd done the math and knew that the next eastbound, 8972, would arrive about ten 'til. This was another D.P. train, with AEPX tub gondolas, BNSF 8972 in front and BNSF 9965 behind. I'd heard the 704 the dispatcher mentioned get a warrant at Halpin at 8:10. At 9:00 track inspector Hamilton called in to report them by Chariton and at 9:10 I heard that Amtrak was out of Creston. This might be a little close, but normally a train won't pass through the depot while Amtrak's stopped. I'd already positioned myself at the far east end of the platform to avoid hassles with the depot caretakers about being outside the building.
The westbound came in first, at 9:30, 127 DEEX cars with BNSF 704 and 8907 on the point. By now the sun had disappeared and there was a full overcast. At 9:38 the Zephyr came into sight and approached the platform at Osceola. Station attendant Pat Green was out to greet the engineer as they rolled in. The train made two spots, the second for a solitary sleeping car passenger to board - unusual in this direction. In No. 6 today:
AMTK 200 and 40After the passengers had gotten on and off the train they highballed at 9:44, a little over an hour and a half late. I went into the depot and had a nice visit with Pat and J.R. about the trains and our respective Christmases. Pat said that Engineer Leroy Lucas had retired at the end of the year, leaving only two regular board engineers between Lincoln and Ottumwa. They'd been calling in others, like Rich Fertig, who were qualified for this area but normally working elsewhere.
Transition Sleeper 39008
Sightseer Lounge 33019
Sleepers 32068, 32045 and 32066
Four boxcars in the rear
At this point I was out of traffic that I knew about, so I decided to drive
on over to Creston. On the way over I heard 704 West reach the east
yard limit at Creston at 10:27. As I neared town, another eastbound
was calling for a warrant and just starting to move out of the yard, so I
turned around and went north on a gravel road to "Bullock's crossing" to
intercept them. This train, an AEPX load, left
Creston at 11:00 with BNSF 8942 on the point
(note red scarf) and BNSF 8958 bringing up the rear. I heard this one on the detector by
Talmage Hill a few minutes later - 528 axles.
I cruised the yard in Creston, empty of any coal trains at the moment.
On the north side near the old roundhouse area I found two old SD's,
IMRL 610 and DBGX 558,
recently in the employ of Indiana Railroad. A number of company units
were scattered around the yard as well. BNSF
2172 and 2332 were at the east end, 2520 near the west, and a pair still
in green, BNSF 2933 and BN 1513, were bumping
covered hoppers around near Elm Street.
I'd not yet heard of any more trains on the scanner, so I went and got some take-out lunch and worked a crossword while I waited. Eventually, about 12:10, the detector west of town announced an eastbound with 488 axles. This was another coal load (no surprise there), BNSF 9730 and 9980 with FSTX/PSTX cars. They rolled in on Main 2 and stopped briefly for a crew change at the east end of the yard. Another load, a DP train with BNSF 762 in front, was right behind, and stopped at New York Ave. to wait on the train ahead.
After getting a picture of the lead unit on the second train I decided
to pace 9730 out to the east. They got their warrant and pulled at
12:45. I drove to Afton and got in position near the elevators just
in time to catch them coming up the hill into town,
under the overpass and by my perch on what must be the old CB&Q station foundation.
I set out eastbound on Hwy. 34 again and caught up with the rear end of
9730's train as the highway crossed above the railroad at Thayer. I
knew from previous chases that a steady 60 mph would put me well ahead of
the train by the time I reached Osceola. I pulled over at the east
end of an old section of 34 just west of town and waited for 9730 to catch
me. The train appeared just after 1:30, split
the signals on the two-track main, rolled by, leaning into a left curve as the rails came parallel to
the highway on the way into town.
While I waited for the following load, I heard a couple of westbounds,
9595 and 9932 getting warrants at Albia, the latter at 1:40. At about
2:00 the load I'd seen at New York Ave. arrived.
This was a distributed power DEEX/CEFX train with BNSF 762 in the lead and BNSF 8939 shoving on the rear of the coal cars. The detector
east of Osceola reported this one at 512 axles and also informed me that
the temperature was now up to 28 degrees.
Knowing that I had a couple of westbounds on the way (at least), I went
into Osceola and parked at the depot again. While I waited I could
hear lots of "Okay on this side..." messages being exchanged between passing
trains, presumably the four that were now to the east of my location. At
2:45 the detector announced the first westbound,
119 FSTX/PSTX/ESCX cars with three units on the point, BN 9595, BNSF 8268 and BN 9561. I took care of a little "honey-do"
on the Osceola square and got back to the depot in time for the next empty, which came in just before 3:00. This
one measured 516 axles and had BNSF 9932 and
4078 on the front of a set of COLX cars.
My plan for the day was to be back in Indianola around 3:30 in order to
get cleaned up and out to the acreage where we were having company for supper.
I left the depot just after 3:00 and on the way north, heard the Osceola
detector announce another westbound at 3:10. Oh well...